HC directs personal appearance of law secretary along with records on July 12
SRINAGAR: A fortnight after gaffe in recommending former High Court Judge Justice (retd.) Imtiyaz Hussain as head of the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), the government on Tuesday said a fresh meeting to shortlist a new candidate would be convened “very shortly”.
The statement was made on behalf of the government by the additional advocate general, M I Dar, before a division bench of chief justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey during a hearing of Public Interest Litigation filed by the NGO J&K Peoples Forum through its secretary general M M Shuja.
Dar produced the government’s July-4 order, stating that the process for selection/appointment of the chairperson and members of the SHRC has already been initiated.
“The meeting of the selection committee is being convened very shortly for making the necessary recommendations for the appointment of the chairperson and the members (to the governor),” he said.
On June 17, a high-level committee headed by the chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, had sent a recommendation to the governor for the appointment of justice (retd.) Imtiyaz Hussain and former Principal District and Sessions Judge Jang Bahadur Singh Jamwal as chairman and member of the SHRC, respectively.
However, the day later, the government was forced to withdraw the recommendations as justice (retd.) Imtiyaz Hussain’s appointment was in contravention of the legislation that makes the chairperson and members of State Accountability Commission ineligible for any assignment or appointment to be made by the governor once their term is completed with the anti-graft body.
“The direction for the personal appearance issued by this court 1-6-2016 has not been compiled with and hence Law Secretary to appear in person alongwith implementation order and records on 12-7-2016,” the division bench said.
Hitherto, the ruling alliance failed to revive SHRC despite the court’s direction to “strictly adhered to” the time limit of November 10, 2015.
The court’s order had followed an assurance by the state’s highest law officer on September 15 last year that immediately after the meeting to appoint the chairman and members of the SAC, the meeting for selection of the chairperson and the member of SHRC shall also be convened. The meeting to appoint chairperson and members of the SAC was held on September 17 last year but hitherto the SHRC has remained defunct.
Referring to a judgment by the Supreme Court, the high court had observed that the SHRC Act has been enacted to provide better protection of human rights relating to life, liberty, equality, dignity of the individual guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in the International Covenants and enforceable by courts in the state.
“The statute has conferred wide range powers upon SHRC and the Commission is therefore required to be constituted with persons who have held very high constitutional offices earlier so that all aspects of good and adjudicatory procedures would be familiar to them,” the court had said.
More than 2000 cases, mainly related to human right violations, are pending disposal since June 28, 2014 when two of its last members—Rafiq Fida, who was also serving as its acting chairperson, and Amlok Singh completed their term in office.
The SHRC is actually headless since October 2011 when Justice (Retd) Bashir-ud-Din retired as chairman. Month later, Abdul Rashid Khan, former Inspector General of Police, completed his term as the member while Javaid Ahmad Kawoos attained superannuation on October 24, 2013.
Soon after the chairman and the two members (Khan and Kawoos) retired, the law, justice and parliamentary ministry had announced on its official website that filling up the vacancies was under “active consideration of the government and the process has already been initiated.”
As per the SHRC Act, the chairperson must be a sitting or retired judge of the high court and one member must be a sitting or retired district judges while three members must be persons having practical knowledge and experience in matters relating to the human rights. As per the amended act, a person appointed as chairperson or a member shall hold office for a term of five years from the date of which he assumes his office or until he attains